There’s a lot more to Illinois than the great city of Chicago. Along with this exciting urban hub there are many natural areas where locals and residents alike enjoy getting outside. With 141 parks it’s no wonder the DNR created the motto, “State Parks, Great Parks” in 2013. This phrase is the title of their initiative to continue improvements on local natural areas with upgraded campgrounds and additional staff to cater to the more than 44 million yearly visitors looking for hiking and camping in Illinois.
People from all over the state – and even outside the country – take the short 1.5-hour drive from Chicago to Starved Rock State Park, where they can hike 13 miles of trails offering elevation gains on wooded pathways along the Illinois River. The 18 canyons serve as great places to spot waterfalls after a rain and families love ending the day with s’mores around the bonfire at the nearby Starved Rock State Park campsites.
Those looking to learn about the state’s heritage while camping in Illinois may head farther south to Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park & Memorial. This 162-acre park is 12 miles southwest of Decatur near Harristown, IL, and features the land where Abraham Lincoln first resided in the state. If you visit be sure to check out the memorials commemorating this important president.
People who want to mountain bike in this Midwestern state will enjoy heading to Palos Park, a forest preserve known for its excellent biking, hiking and equestrian trails that cover over 50 miles of terrain. When it comes to camping in Illinois, this locale offers beautiful facilities at Camp Bullfrog Lake where you can put up a tent next to a lake and hike short or long loops that end up back at your campsite.
If you want to check out the beautiful Lake Michigan drive to Illinois Beach State Park to spend time in the water along the 6.5 miles of sandy shoreline. The park is 4,160 acres offering ample opportunities for hiking, watersports, picnicking, fishing and camping. With The Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in Illinois during your stay in the Prairie State.
My family and I stayed here just passing through and we checked in with the very friendly staff… The campground itself was not the greatest, but okay for just one night passing through! It’s location was great for us, traveling west, being about 45 min. out of St. Louis, MO. The site was pretty muddy, but they had been experiencing lots of rain. Wouldn’t recommend for a vacation, but for one night, passing through, it will be more than suitable!
Most of the sites are large and a good distance from the next one. Shower house is alright. The store/restaurant has been closed for a year or two now because of the Illinois budget. There's a dollar store in Farina and a grocery store in Kinmundy; both towns are less than 10 miles away. The lake is big enough for ski boats but nice for kayaks also. Swim beach is not well maintained due to the budget but also doesn't cost anything since they can't pay anyone to man the gate, but it's not horrible.
Very nice people. Kind. Clean site with excellent WIFI. Park was full and we were streaming video. Had only three interruptions for buffering but they were short. Even though they have cable, some sites will be snowy. They do not know why. It seems to be rig specific. They should list this on the web site but they do not. It is listed when you check in. We will be back.
Never really wanted to go somewhere called "The Last Resort". Just seems like they didn't want to be your first choice. But now its called "The Kampground", and it's under new ownership. The new owner has really done a fantastic job of restoring this property which was formerly a church kids camp. The bathrooms were really clean, property well maintain, staff was extremely nice and hospitable, and the area is really quiet with neighbors far enough away that any noise we made went unheard. Thanks for everything Steve!
Giving this 4 stars for the awesomeness of the sites themselves. We were in 121. All of the sites we saw in our “loop” were super wide, all gravel and quite level. So well kept…..fire pit with grate, large picnic table….really, the site couldn’t have been better. Beautiful views of the lake! Just all-in-all a well maintained park. So, why not 5 stars? I really wanted good shore fishing and not only was it a long walk, but really not very good/easy to get to, or comfortable standing once you get there. Beautiful dog parks….one for large dogs and one for small, but again, a long walk from the campground. Not feasible for our older dog. One other thing, absolutely no lighting at night along the campground roadways. After dark, we watched a truck go into the ditch looking for the turn out (granted, the occupants sounded like they were well into partying), but the pitch darkness at night made it feel a little unsafe, especially walking the dog after dark. Still, the sites themselves are awesome.
Let’s start with the good. The outhouses were clean and it was pretty cheap. Ok,on to all of the not so great. The trails were VERY unkept and there was poison ivy at nearly every step, the entry map shows a beach- there might have been 5 years ago but now absolutely nothing that even resembled a place to swim. If I hadn’t been tricked into thinking it was a decent campground, I might not have been as disappointed but we were looking for a specific type of camping experience and this place failed to meet even the lowest of expectations.
The sites are gravel and some are extremely unlevel. Electric hookups. Pit toilets but the shower house was nice and clean. The trails in this CCC era park are marvelous. We also loved the Lodge for dinner and climbing the water tower. We will definitely be staying here again.
This is our favorite campground in Central/southern illinois. The sites are very nice and most have shade. There is a beach for campers to use, and a really nice playground. Their bathrooms and showerhouse were impeccably clean, and many sites are right next to the lake.
Overall this is a VERY nice campground. There is a camp store, firewood available, and even a pool! The trails around are nice and our family had fun hiking. HOWEVER: Unless you have a restroom in your rig, be prepared to walk up to the showerhouse. The pit toilets that were spread across the campground were in horrendous condition and had wasps, spiders, and other critters hanging out. With 4 kids in tow and a pop-up camper, we made the long treck to the shower house many times in one weekend. If we'd had a heads up, we would have stayed somewhere with more accessible restrooms.
Oh and lots of deer bed down in the grassy areas at night, which was a fun thing to see!
Electric only, no water or sewer hookups. Pit toilets. Nice and clean. People kept cutting through our campsite on their way to the playground, which is whatever, but some people are bothered by that kind of thing. Very laid back place overall.
There’s not a bad campsite here. There are sites with electric, water, and sewer. Several sites are right on Rend Lake. Most sites have concrete picnic tables and fire rings. The bath houses are really nice, they are individual shower houses that are clean and well lit. The grounds are very well maintained. The park was full while we stayed there, but was really quiet. You can tent camp or use a camper.
A little hilly and the gravel sites are close together, but it has full hookup options, as well as just electric. The marina shop also provides kayak and canoe rentals. Little Grassy is a beautiful lake to explore!
I’ve always used this site as a backup if Garden of the Gods is full when I get there. To be honest, this site is prettier, its just further out from the hiking I usually come to the area to do. The sites are well maintained and the area is BEAUTIFUL. The only negative thing I might be able to point out is that there seems to be poison ivy just about everywhere.
Took grandkids there for the day. There’s a pool, playground, fishing pond and small arcade room. You can rent a peddle type cart that holds 4 people who all peddle. They really loved them. You can also rent golf carts.
It’s very shaded and relaxing. From the road you only see an open field with some campers in it. That appears to be mostly people who are spending time at the nearby lake. I’ve driven by it for years without realizing what was beyond that part.
Compared to other IL campsites, this one is prettier, but versus places I've been in WI or CO, this doesn't have as pretty scenery.
It is well maintained. There are some sites with no privacy, but if you get one in the treed area you will have some. My site could see are neighbor pretty easily but we set up our tent to block the opening in the trees.
P.S. raccoons are very used to humans and came up to us looking for food.
This is a pretty area on the Evergreen Lake with mature trees and open spaces. The area I camped in had large spaces between the sites which was nice, but there was no foliage to provide privacy or sound buffering. I could hear one campers entire angry phone conversation. On the plus side, the stars were amazing.
The pad at site 38 was gravel and uneven with electric only. Good electric though. There was a picnic bench and a fire pit, but the bench had been pulled over the pit which was odd. The dump station was also strangely located. It was down the road from the park. The bathrooms have seen better days and so have the sites I viewed. It’s sad because this park looks like it was a real beauty in it’s prime.
Had very nice trails, very clean. Forest is beautiful. We camped at the primitive area spot 11. Spots are pretty dam close to each other. There is camping you can walk off to. We stayed for 1 night at the Turkey Ridge, so we stayed closer to the parking. Was only 1 other group camping on a Wednesday. There are “out houses” close by. Although they were pretty bad my buddy said “storm of flies came shooting out the hole like a tornado.” So I do agree they deserve some slight repercussion for the lack of cleanliness. All and all a great area to camp. A great hidden gem!
As someone who normally camps in state parks with only electricity hookups, this site was a welcome treat.
Rig: 2020 Micro Minnie 1700BH + Ford F-250
Campers: 2 parents, 3 boys ranging from 7 years old to 2 years old
Campsite Pros: Water + 50amp hookups. Wide, open spaces for kids to ride bikes and explore wildflowers. Duck viewing. Quiet. Almost 100 improved sites. Full bars on Verizon. Amazing sunsets. Sites seem to be mostly level.
Cons: Walkup only - no reservations taken. $35 a night is a bit steep. AT&T signal is spotty at times. Water hookup is far behind camping pad - bring extensions!
Spent a couple nights here (site 3) for Vintage Illinois at a nearby park. Quiet, fairly level, gravel sites. Electric worn but fully functional. Lots of trees and shade. From map it looked like site 3 was isolated at end of loop - weeellll, it IS at the end of a loop - right across from camp host and adjacent to maintenance area for lock & dam - not very picturesque. Didn’t use bathhouse so can’t comment on that. Drink vending machines by bathhouse. Local guy across from entrance to park sells firewood. Site had fire ring and picnic table. One thing to note - trees drop some kinda “nuts” and when you drive over them they pop and it sounds just like you are dragging low hanging branches. I started to backing and swore I was hitting branches (even though I’d looked and knew it was clear) and DW said we were clear….
Everyone was very friendly and really enjoyed our time while there. There was events going on even during rain. The Margarita bar was where bingo, bags tournament and band were at. Can’t say enough about owner Ron and everyone that worked there. Extremely helpful from time you pull in until time to leave. Highly recommend Timber Lake Resort
Really love this Campground! The owners are a young family, with a bunch of kids! They live across the road to handle any issues. The lodge/office is open til 8. Level packed gravel sites. We have a 40’ class A. Plenty of pull thru sites. Back in sites are great too. Lots of trees. Good shade. Well kept grounds. 2 catch and release ponds. Playground. Fire pit. AT&T wireless service. Every weekend has an event. Bluegrass to crafts. Right outside of Jacksonville, Ashland, Virginia, and close enough to Springfield. We were there last weekend and will be there again at the end of the month. Happy Camping!
Just down the street from Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park is the much smaller(and less crowded) Buffalo Rock State Park. It has some trails, camping, a playground and other facilities, and is right next to the I& M Canal Tow Path.
At a leisurely pace, it only took me a couple of hours to walk all the trails. They are nice well-kept trails. Most of the surface is gravel but some parts are just dirt. The trail is wide and mowed at least two feet on either side. I’m not sure if bikes are allowed; I did see bike tracks and did not see any sign that indicated they were not allowed. Very little elevation changes and none that were steep. There are a couple of overlooks that offer beautiful views of Illinois River.
The campsites are directly off of the towpath. The furthest site(the group site) is three miles from the ranger station. There are four sites total. One of the sites is kinda small but big enough for a single tent and two campers. The largest site is the group site which is the only site with a picnic table and shelter. The shelter needed some work but overall was in decent condition. It as a fireplace that was pretty neat. Each site has a fire ring with grill. I did feel a little exposed being right off the trail. I was nervous leaving all my gear behind when I went for a hike. Nobody messed with my stuff though and everyone I saw was very friendly. I did have a visitor around two in the morning my second night. He was looking for a place to rest for a few hours and left at daybreak. The sites are only accessible by walking or biking.
The park has a playground, restroom(with running water), and drinking fountains with spouts. The water tasted funny but it was nice having a source to refill my bottles. Also, there are buffalo and that’s pretty cool.
Went tent camping here and reserved our spot in advance. We bought fire wood from a locals front lawn at the entrance to the state park. Put 5$ in the bin and take a bundle. Its 30 mins away from Starved Rock and Matthiesson State Park. Good hiking. The river spots are all booked by large RVs and the tent spots have grills over the fire pits and picnic tables. lots of tree cover which came in handy when it rained in the morning. Otherwise great weather and not buggy. Dogs allowed.